publication

The Need for Political Debate on Environmental Governance and the Role of Institutional Law

Isabel Feichtner • 17-08-2011
Feichtner, I. The Need for Political Debate on Environmental Governance and the Role of Institutional Law. Panel: On the way to Rio 2012: Reform options and processes in international environmental governance. World International Studies Committee.
The Need for Political Debate on Environmental Governance and the Role of Institutional Law

International environmental governance is intricately linked with international economic governance. International law, however, to date evidences an imbalance to the detriment of international environmental governance. While one may speak of a juridification and even constitutionalization of international economic law, to the effect that there exists a strong protection of individual property rights and effective enforcement of binding liberalization commitments, environmental governance is largely characterized by non-binding norms, weak enforcement mechanisms and institutions. The justification that is frequently given for the juridification/constitutionalization of international economic relations is that protection of property rights as well as liberalization of economic activity promotes economic growth and development and consequently benefits all societies. The juridification of a specific economic order is thus presented as mandated by economic science and not identified as a specific political choice of societal ordering which excludes other choices.

As a consequence of devastating environmental and economic crises, increasingly doubts are raised within mainstream politics and scholarship with respect to the sustainability of the existing world (economic) order. National, international as well as transnational initiatives are being set up that address the conditions for a sustainable economic order. Environmental protection and governance occupy a prominent role in these endeavors. It seems, thus, possible to detect a repoliticization of questions concerning a sustainable and just global order – questions which were partially withdrawn from political debate due to, on the one hand, a far-reaching juridification of international economic relations and, on the other hand, a scientification in form of the promotion of a certain economic order as a matter of scientific truth.

Tags: economic governance and institutions,environmental law,global environmental governance,United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 Earth Summit)